It wasn't as easy as it looked but Georgia Southern wouldn't be stopped during Saturday night's contest in the Kibbie Dome.
Georgia Southern (3-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) still hasn't lost a conference game as an FBS team thanks to its 44-20 win over Idaho in Moscow. No surprise, it was the legs of Matt Breida that led the offensive effort on the night.
Breida scored his tenth career touchdown run of 50-plus yards in what was also the first touchdown of the game. He added his 11th on the first drive of the second half. However, the Vandals kept it close early as the first quarter ended 10-3. The first half was mainly a battle of kickers that ended with the Eagles up 16-13.
The passing game remains a question. Kevin Ellison threw an interception early on that helped Idaho keep it close. Ellison finished the game 6 of 14 passing for 105 yards and zero touchdowns.
While the final score could have been even more lopsided if Southern's drives didn't stall in the first half, the kicking game had a nice night with Alex Hanks knocking through all three field goal tries. It appears the nightmares from seasons past are (fingers crossed) now behind us.
Breida's brilliant 66-yard run on the first drive of the second half set the tone for the rest of the game. After an Idaho punt freshman Wesley Fields punched in another rushing TD and suddenly it was 30-13 with the visitors firmly in command. Ellison had a key 53-yard scamper on the drive.
The rout wasn't on just yet though as Linehan found Epps a second time to make it 30-20 with 4:19 left in the third quarter. Ellison scored on an option keeper to make it 37-20 early in the fourth quarter and then big Jay Ellison pulled down the interceptioin in Idaho territory. However, Idaho wasn't quite done hanging around as the offense coughed the ball right back up.
On Georgia Southern's next possession Ellison added his second rushing touchdown putting his team up 44-20 to finally put the game out of reach. If that wasn't enough, Caleb Williams snagged an interception with 4:10 to play. Third-string quarterback Vegas Harley got a few garbage time snaps before things were over.
The game was a little uglier than the final score indicates but overall another solid performance by Willie Fritz and crew. The story has been the same since the end of the West Virginia game, and really since the Fritz tenure began. Southern's powerful offense and stout-enough defense was just too much for the overmatched Vandals.
Yea, the first half was closer than it should have been. I'll chalk it up to jet lag from the diagonal cross-country trip. The air offense remains an issue and the defense gave up more yards than is optimal. Bottom line: the team won by 24 points 2,000 miles from home.
Next week is likely more of the same. Louisiana-Monroe still is a bit of an unknown entity with blowout losses to Georgia and Alabama sandwiched around a blowout win against Nichols. Of course we'll have more on that much-closer road trip later this week. For now I'll say that Georgia Southern should again be a big favorite in the contest, and for good reason.